Friday, May 29, 2015

What Are Justification and Sanctification?

The words justification and sanctification have largely fallen out of use in Western culture. Sadly, they are also fading from sight in the Christian church. One reason this decline is distressing is that the Bible uses the words justification and sanctification to express the saving work of Christ for sinners. That is to say, both terms lie at the heart of the biblical gospel. So, what does the Bible teach about justification and sanctification? How do they differ from one another? How do they help us understand better the believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ?

Justification is as simple as A-B-C-D. Justification is an act of God. It does not describe the way that God inwardly renews and changes a person. It is, rather, a legal declaration in which God pardons the sinner of all his sins and accepts and accounts the sinner as righteous in His sight. God declares the sinner righteous at the very moment that the sinner puts his trust in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-26, 5:16; 2 Cor. 5:21).

What is the basis of this legal verdict? God justifies the sinner solely on the basis of the obedience and death of His Son, our representative, Jesus Christ. Christ’s perfect obedience and full satisfaction for sin are the only ground upon which God declares the sinner righteous (Rom. 5:18-19; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Phil. 2:8). We are not justified by our own works; we are justified solely on the basis of Christ’s work on our behalf. This righteousness is imputed to the sinner. In other words, in justification, God puts the righteousness of His Son onto the sinner’s account. Just as my sins were transferred to, or laid upon, Christ at the cross, so also His righteousness is reckoned to me (2 Cor. 5:21).

By what means is the sinner justified? Sinners are justified through faith alone when they confess their trust in Christ. We are not justified because of any good that we have done, are doing, or will do. Faith is the only instrument of justification. Faith adds nothing to what Christ has done for us in justification. Faith merely receives the righteousness of Jesus Christ offered in the gospel (Rom. 4:4-5). Keep reading

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